The other day I was stuck for sketchbook inspiration. I have a few other projects that I'm working on, but I try and work in my sketchbook often and it wasn't really happening. I pulled out a few of my older art books - art journals/sketchbooks/things that defy categorization. I thought it would be fun to share some of these books featuring my some of my favorite older work and where I come from as an artist.
I started what I think of as my new art life in the summer of 2013. I had always been creative, but had never really thought I could do visual art (which is a whole other post that I have a lot of feelings about) and was interested in other creative pursuits, like writing. I don't really remember how, but that summer I stumbled down an internet rabbit hole and was very intrigued by the idea of art journaling. I took a blank notebook that already owned and made a goal to create 31 pages in the month of July using the magazines, paper, and random art supplies I had around (children's watercolors, lots of sharpies, and some oil pastels from a school project) before I invested in more supplies.
My first page! Featuring lyrics from Florence and the Machine's "Shake it Out" and some magazine collage.
Looking back, this was such a cool time. I was trying everything - handlettering, collage, watercolor, carving my own stamps. I was reading everything I could find about art journaling and trying to learn as many techniques as I could. I was so inspired by Teesha Moore, Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, Sailor Sloth, Donna Downey and a million other people who still inspire me today. I was replicating their styles and stumbling onto things that were my own.
The left side of this page remained unfinished for a long time while I tried to figure out the perfect thing to put on it. Until I couldn't sleep one night and wrote all over it with paint marker. I still love how it looks. The right page is all about how obsessed I was with jalapeno peppers (I still am) - super random, but I was trying to figure out what the book was for - art or writing or both - and what was interesting to me to write about.
I used a lot of office supplies (like that label and the graph paper) because they were what I had. I was already a stationary/paper lover by then so I had a bunch of paper to use, including the floral paper on the left that I brought back from Denmark.
I remember looking so hard for a magazine image of a person diving so I could make that collage!
On a trip to my childhood home I realized that I had actually been art journaling for a long time! I found an altered book that I had made when I was 14 (in 2007). It is made from a fantasy book that I read as a child. I think I chose it for the symbol embossed on the cover. Apparently at some point I decided to remove the stickers that I had put on to create the title, but only after I painted the whole thing really messily in silver paint... I mostly wrote angsty teen diary entries on lined paper and pasted them into the book, but I also stuck in photos I'd taken, drew on the pages, and made blackout poetry.
My favorite page from that first journal. Obviously I cut up my horoscope and rearranged it.
In my new book I remade the page using a page that I ripped out of the old book.
My first annoyed animal! Tigers hate the patriarchy. Also featuring some of my hand-carved stamps (that Venus symbol!).
One thing I did and continue to do often is write myself notes - often encouraging ones.
Another entry on one of the altered book pages. The chapter is called "Unicorns" so obviously I included it.
Not that much has changed; I'm still crushing hard on neon pink.
This little book is full of hidden pockets and flaps. I love anything interactive and it is a good way to hide any private writing. The lady on the left is actually a pocket. Behind her there is a piece of paper cut into her silhouette with secret writing on it.
Playing with acrylic paint and altering clothes and people cut from magazines.
I included all kinds of weird ephemera. The "move" is from a Zara job application that I grabbed from the checkout counter.
I still love playing with lots of bold colors and big, declarative lettering. I was also playing with a lot of mixed media - this page has collage, stamping, acrylic paint (including some applied with a bottle cap), doodling and handlettering.
When I was done with the book I painted it neon pink (of course). As I was working in it I ripped out about half of the pages, but not enough to compensate for how much I added to the book - as you can see the spine is split and pretty beat up.
Looking back, I love this body of work. I love the bright colors and how the pages look handmade and not at all polished. I love how personal it is. I have been getting back into collage recently and these pages give me a ton of ideas. One thing that is really striking so me is that there is no drawing at all. There is some doodling, but no real sketching or drawing, definitely because I was too scared to even attempt to draw.
I hope you enjoyed a look at my first art books! I have several more that I worked on in between this one and my current sketchbook and I'm excited to see how my artwork and my approach to keeping a sketchbook has changed over time.